There is no looking glass here and I don’t know what I am like now. I remember watching myself brush my hair and how my eyes looked back at me. The girl I saw was myself yet not quite myself. Long ago when I was a child and very lonely I tried to kiss her. But the glass was between us — hard, cold, and misted over with my breath. Now they have taken everything away. What am I doing in this place and who am I?
— Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea
Become as a child,
become deaf, become blind!
Your very something
must become nothing,
drive all something, all nothing away!
Leave place, leave time,
and images as well!
Go without way
on the narrow path,
thus you will come to the desert trace.
O my soul,
get out, god in!
all my something sink
into god’s nothing,
sink into the bottomless swell!
If I flee from you,
you come to me.
If I lose myself,
I find you,
O goodness beyond being!
– Master Eckhart, from Granum sinapis de divinitate pulcherrima (tr. W. Franke)
Sometimes a small shift seemed to change everything and the effect was simple, like night turning into day. Some turn of direction or a modulation of frequencies. What was revealed then, what new view opened up? But it wasn’t quite a question of revelation, more like a possibility actuated and so trailing new possibilities behind it. You’d turn your head and see something you’d sensed all along, or it would see you. Those changes made a gentle mockery of you when you put yourself in a position to receive them.
Sometimes things came together when you needed it, even when things seemed to go wrong. Sometimes things went wrong in order to come together. There was a current beneath acts and events that could carry you or turn against you. When it found you, or when you found it, and it brought you towards other people, you called it grace, in the old style.
Luck came only through playing. So how could you start playing, how emerge from your refusal to play, from your grey timid life? How else but by a stroke of luck that carried you with it? What game were you playing, what game was playing you? What did you find as you played, as you renewed your search for luck? You crossed a line and found something that was searching for itself. When you got lucky luck played its game with you, without you. You got lucky: you were ruled by a game that didn’t know its own rules. You got lucky: your luck ran through your fingers…
An uncanny empathy broods above these zoomorphs, and invests them with more of their creator’s soul than all but a few human characters receive. So a child, cowed and bored by the world of human adults, makes companions of pets and toy animals.
— From John Updike’s introduction to Schocken Books’ Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories
Something went wrong when I turned up. What was supposed to happen seamlessly happened like a break. What usually happened didn’t happen and that was what defined it: as something that failed to happen, that broke apart instead of coming together, or broke apart the instant it came together. I turned up too suddenly, or you hadn’t been prepared well enough, eighteen years later I still know as much as you do, that’s to say nothing. We’re reduced to a series of empty images: the foundations hadn’t been laid, the ground was barren and cracked. Nothing could be built from my words, the seeds wouldn’t take root. Words, words, words, that’s all we became. I botched up the experiment, like Frankenstein, or the guy in The Fly.